CHURCHES across a 26 mile trail are playing host to sculptures by international artists as part of an ambitious project.

Sculpt is a free event sponsored by the Arts Council and church groups. It will be launched on May 25 and run until September 28 with sculptures in seven village churches around the Masham and Bedale area.

Chair and Curator Chris Bailey said: "The 26 mile trail offers all the ingredients for an enriching, educational and stimulating visit to buildings that form an essential part of the fabric of British culture, but that are often neglected or ignored.

"Everyone agrees that a village needs a church, and the thought of them being converted into carpet warehouses or strange residential conversions is as unappealing to non-church goers as it is to the faithful. This event is for everyone."

Communities involved include North Stainley, West Tanfield, Well, Snape, Masham, Healey and Mickley with site specific artwork.

Harriet Hill’s sculpture 'Rock of Ages' at Well's St Michael's church takes the form of a huge floating rock, created from woven willow and felt made from the wool of the local Masham sheep along with straw, baler twine and bale netting. Ms Hill said the sculpture represents the layering of history, in particular relating to the people who have worked the land and lived around the church through its 1,000 year history.

The theme of the trail is Respond to Space with other works including Wonder and War in Heaven at Snape and Neons from Heaven at St Mary's church in Masham where Sculpt event is being launched on Friday, May 25. Education and community groups are involved and there's a treasure hunt for children. for information go to